Foie gras maker fires back at animal-rights attackers

SONOMA, CA: After animal-rights activists allegedly stole ducks at Sonoma Foie Gras and vandalized a restaurant also run by Sonoma Foie Gras' owners, the company has decided to fight fire with fire.

SONOMA, CA: After animal-rights activists allegedly stole ducks at Sonoma Foie Gras and vandalized a restaurant also run by Sonoma Foie Gras' owners, the company has decided to fight fire with fire.

"Everything these animal-rights groups do has to do with PR," said attorney Robert Julian, who was hired by the owner of Sonoma Foie Gras, Guillermo Gonzalez. "Whether they're defacing property, stealing ducks, breaking into buildings, pouring cement down drains, etching acid on windows, or filing lawsuits, our client believes fervently these acts are to get media attention."

So Sonoma Foie Gras has hired Singer Associates to get their story out, and educate the media, and thereby the public, about foie gras.

Foie Gras is the fat-engorged liver of force-fed ducks and geese. While considered a culinary delicacy by some, others see the process of making foie gras as cruel and inhumane.

Activists have stolen ducks from Sonoma Foie Gras, as well as circulated videotape they claim documents animal torture at the company. Activists have also vandalized Sonoma Saveurs, a restaurant Gonzalez co-owns with chef Laurent Manrique, who serves foie gras. Manrique's car has been vandalized, and activities left Manrique videotape, taken through a window, showing the chef and his family eating and playing at their home.

"We want to tell the story of this family business, which has a 17-year record with no health or safety violations," said Sam Singer, president of Singer Associates. "This is about a small family farm against animal-rights activists who would steal ducks, terrorize a family, and vandalize a restaurant."

Singer said he is focusing on the families affected by the activists, casting the story as a small, family-run business besieged by militant activists. "This is about a totalitarian point of view versus the freedom of choice - the freedom to choose what we want to eat," said Singer. He also acknowledged that there is a larger story beyond Sonoma Foie Gras, and that is about educating the media, public, and politicians about foie gras.

Singer said Sonoma Foie Gras and the foie-gras issue have received coverage in local and national media such as The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Fox News, as well as international media including Le Monde and The Times of London. Singer also said he is taking the story to other major papers and broadcast media, as well as food trade publications, inviting them to see Sonoma Foie Gras' farm for themselves.

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